29th Mar2016

The Most Underrated Television Theme Songs: California Dreams

by Will


Back in 1992, two shows premiered about beautiful people forming bands. One show aired on NBC Saturday mornings (California Dreams), while the other aired during primetime on Fox (The Heights). The Heights went on to have a number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, but then got canceled a week later. Meanwhile, California Dreams went on to enjoy 4 more seasons on the air, but never achieved the mainstream musical success that I felt it could’ve had. But first, let’s backtrack.

If you were too cool for school, then you probably didn’t watch NBC’s live action Saturday morning fare. After all, some folks think that Saved by the Bell killed Saturday morning cartoons (it didn’t; cable did that), while others simply didn’t like the hokey nature of the show. Well, after Saved by the Bell‘s success, executive producer Peter Engel was at it again with California Dreams. As it could pretty much be described as “Saved by the Bell with music”, I like to call it “Saved by the Bell if the Zack Attack didn’t suck” (C’mon, “Friends Forever” was some garbage and you know it!). Set in Southern California, the show initially focused on siblings Matt and Jenny Garrison, and their garage band, the California Dreams. During the first season, it was more of a family ensemble show, but NBC was all about the pretty teens, so they had the producers get rid of that family aspect when the second season rolled around. From that point on, the focus was on the band, its members, and their struggles to hit it big. Oh and, since they were high school students, there was plenty of homework and dating drama.

This might be sacrilege to some, but I’ve always loved California Dreams more than Saved by the Bell. Most of the “Engelverse” reused storylines, so they were basically telling the same stories, but I liked that you got an original song with most episodes of Dreams. Plus, I had a huge crush on Heidi Noelle Lenhart (the brunette). Based on when the show hit, it was a sound that was so indicative of the era. When it comes to California Dreams songs, they’re pretty much just Wilson Phillips songs. Now, personally, this was a point in my life when I was listening to country, so I didn’t really know this sort of stuff got airplay. Had I known, I would’ve been all over pop radio at the time. Still, there’s something sugary sweet about their sound. It’s soothing to me, and it doesn’t really carry much of a message. Sometimes you just wanna kick back and not think, and the Dreams excelled at that kind of song. Whether it was “Castles on Quicksand” or “Rain”, it was hard to be disappointed by a California Dreams song. That said, I think their best song is the theme song to the show. Even listening to it now, it takes me back to a better time.  For me, the early 90s were perfect. No bills, no puberty, no worries. Just close your eyes and listen:

Those harmonies! Smooth like butter. Most folks can rattle off “When I wake up in the morning, and the alarm gives out a warning…”, but they don’t know about this. I hear something like Wilson Phillips’ “The Dream Is Still Alive”, and wonder how that got airplay and the Dreams didn’t (that’s a “real world” California Dreams song if I’ve ever heard one). Was that just something the producers didn’t pursue with the show? They must not have, as you’ve never heard a California Dreams song on the radio and I think that’s a shame. With all of the throwaway pop groups of the 90s, like The Party, there was certainly a place on the radio for the California Dreams. But I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Oh, and that other group I mentioned – their song didn’t suck, either. I actually really dig “How Do You Talk To An Angel”, so I’ll leave you with that, as something of a “bonus track”.

06th Jan2016

West YEAR Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2015

by Will

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2015 was quite the year in pop culture. Adele broke all the records, Charlie Sheen got the HIV, Steve Harvey pissed off Colombia, and Star Wars came along and broke all the records that Adele didn’t touch. And some stuff happened in between all that, too. The Netflix series Daredevil, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Master of None wowed audiences,  Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary, and Marvel released a bunch of movies. Things were also pretty exciting here on the blog, too. power-rangers-legendary-battle-e1421106185742

I guest-posted over at The Robot’s Pajamas ranking the current star power of several Power Rangers alums


I wrote about the best, and most underrated, pop album of 2014


And because I can’t get enough Power Rangers, I wrote about Red Ranger turned Murderer, Ricardo Medina Jr


To celebrate the release of their documentary, Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, I made a list of the best Backstreet Boys songs that you’ve never heard


I got in a Twitter fight with American Idol season 1 alum, Justin Guarini


In one of my most popular posts of the year, I had some controversial thoughts about Batgirl

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Thrift Justice: Yard Sale Edition made a lone appearance this year

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I got on the radar of Andre, The Black Nerd

Bob Ross and his happy little trees

Bob Ross and his happy little trees

I attended DC’s Awesome Con for the first time, and got some cool cosplay pictures


I had some random thoughts about some random comics


I got my first Cease & Desist order AND I got killed in a comic book!

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My biggest post of the year explored the racial implications of Jurassic World


I recorded a “backdoor pilot” for a podcast that’ll probably never get off the ground


I got retweeted by adult film star Ryan Driller


I defended Fant4stic Four

Aaron Carter

I got my first verified celebrity follower on Twitter


I applied to be on a game show

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I made my 3rd trip to Retro Con and took lots of cool toy pics

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I participated in a summer swap of nerd swag

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I went to New York Comic Con on a quest to see how much free swag I could get

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I got caught talking about a Jeopardy contestants boob’s on Twitter, and then we became besties

I’ve never considered myself a “movie guy”, but this year saw me watching 78 films. That’s GOT to be some kind of record for me. No, I’m not going to rank them, because I’m not enough of a cinephile, but I will list them so that you can see that I was all over the place when it came to what I watched:

  1. Obvious Child
  2. Live. Die. Repeat
  3. Wish I Was Here
  4. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
  5. Non-Stop
  6. The Skeleton Twins
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
  8. Man of Steel
  9. A Million Ways To Die In The West
  10. The Chernobyl Diaries
  11. Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of
  12. The Purge
  13. Bad Words
  14. Dredd
  15. Gravity
  16. A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce)
  17. Wet Hot American Summer
  18. After Earth
  19. Cloverfield
  20. The Marine
  21. Tammy
  22. Behind The Candelabra
  23. Choke
  24. St. Elmo’s Fire
  25. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
  26. Tron
  27. The Purge: Anarchy
  28. The Babadook
  29. The Signal
  30. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  31. St. Vincent
  32. Top Five
  33. Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  34. The Wedding Ringer
  35. Seeking Asian Female
  36. Southern Rites
  37. Two Night Stand
  38. The Great Bikini Bowling Bash
  39. Kung Fury
  40. This Is Where I Leave You
  41. The Watch
  42. Hot Girls Wanted
  43. Jersey Boys
  44. John Wick
  45. Whiplash
  46. Hot Tub Time Machine 2
  47. The Duff
  48. Shopgirl
  49. Horrible Bosses 2
  50. Inside Llewyn Davis
  51. 2 Guns
  52. Toy Story 3
  53. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
  54. Ant-Man
  55. Lavalantula
  56. Fant4stic Four
  57. Snowpiercer
  58. Spice World
  59. Fury
  60. Frozen (2010)
  61. The Inbetweeners 2
  62. Pitch Perfect 2
  63. Mad Max: Fury Road
  64. Dreamgirls
  65. Spy
  66. Vacation
  67. Get Hard
  68. Miss Congeniality
  69. Bernie
  70. The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar
  71. Chaos on the Bridge
  72. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
  73. Here Comes the Boom
  74. Unfinished Business
  75. Dope
  76. Attack the Block
  77. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  78. I Smile Back

All of these were reviewed on the site, so just plug them into the search field up on the right to see what I thought about any particular one of them.

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West Week Ever Recipients of 2015 (with commentary)

1/9/15 – Agent Carter

In hindsight, this deserved to have the WWE even more by the end of its run than it did this week. It was a strong premiere, but I was still at a place where I didn’t feel the character could carry her own show. By the end of the 8-week run, I was a True Believer. I guess I just saw a lot of potential in that pilot.

1/16/15 – Empire

This show brought back the sudsy primetime soap, and was SO good for that first season. I definitely feel like it deserved the WWE at the time, but I don’t know if it’ll ever return to the dramatic highs of that first season.

1/23/15 – Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars

This was based purely on speculation, as the West Week Ever was essentially given to an *announcement*. The miniseries hadn’t even begun, and this was based on what was promised in the aftermath: A new Marvel Universe, the destruction of the Ultimate Universe, and the Miles Morales Spider-Man making the move to the mainstream “616” universe. All of this had the makings of something huge. As of this writing, the much-delayed miniseries STILL hasn’t finished, even though the regular Marvel books have relaunched and carried on with their business. From what we can tell, not much has changed in the regular universe, while Secret Wars as a miniseries has been something of a disappointment (with several tie-in miniseries that showed a lot of promise). The surest shot Secret Wars ever had of having the West Week Ever was by receiving it before the first issue even launched. Nothing about the actual mini has been worthy of the WWE.

1/30/15 – Fant4stic Four trailer

The trailer had me interested in the film – something that a lot of people couldn’t say because they were already pissed about reports of “Hacker DOOM” and other stuff. It was clearly a slow week for entertainment, but I really did like what I saw. More about Fant4stic Four later…

2/6/15 – Jimmy Fallon’s Saved By The Bell reunion

This is the kind of thing that West Week Ever is all about: those potential “flash in the pan” moments that embody a particular moment in time. Looking back, I’d like to think I chose things that made some sort of cultural impact, but at times it’s the small moments that also matter. Jimmy Fallon had been trying to do a Saved By The Bell reunion since his days hosting Late Night. He didn’t pull it off, but managed to do it for the cast of California Dreams instead. I loved that reunion and I loved this one, too. Fallon’s at just the right age where his nostalgia is my nostalgia, and as an unabashed fan of all things TNBC, this was certainly my favorite moment of that week.

2/13/15 – N/A

Sometimes nothing has the West Week Ever. This was one of those weeks.

2/20/15 – Saturday Night Live

This was the week after the 40th anniversary aired, and I definitely feel like it was deserving of the WWE. It was a great special, in a vain that you rarely see anymore. It was great to see all of those old faces return to the studio, including Eddie Murphy who hadn’t returned to SNL since his days as a cast member.

2/27/15 – Parks & Recreation

I didn’t love Parks & Rec in the beginning. I’ve often said that it was the show least deserving of a second season that I’d ever seen. That first season is HORRIBLE. After some cast shakeups and some creative tinkering, the show finally found its footing. While it never really hit the acclaim of its “brother” The Office, it certainly ended a lot stronger than that show did. I didn’t appreciate how NBC burned the show off during its final season, and I feel like that broadcasting decision caused a lot of folks to miss out on those episodes. Luckily, the season is coming to Netflix later this month, so hopefully they’ll get to see what I saw in the show. Those final eps had a lot of heart, and the characters all end up in a great place. This one totally deserved the WWE.

3/13/15 – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

This one was tricky due to the “Here’s everything at once” nature of Netflix. Timing was on its side, though, as this was the best thing that happened that week I finally consumed the series. This was not only one of the bright spots of 2015 television, but as a Tina Fey project, it’s cemented its influence on popular culture. I’ll bet NBC is still kicking themselves for cancelling this thing before it even went to air, but more folks saw it online than would’ve seen it on NBC in the midst of its death throes.

3/20/15 – Community

Did it deserve the WWE at this time? I’m not sure. It was more a testament to its triumphant return from cancellation, as well as it was helping to launch the Yahoo Screen platform (which has just been shut down, as of this past Monday). We didn’t know much about what the season would bring as, unlike Netflix’s full-season dump, Yahoo Screen debuted new episodes every Tuesday.

3/27/15 – Evelyn West

I had a daughter that week. It was pretty cool.

4/3/15 – Going Clear

I love anything about Scientology, so this was right up my alley. The documentary premiered that week, so it was definitely the standout of what was essentially a slow week for news.

4/10/15 – Daredevil

The Netflix series got the WWE based on my watching the pilot alone. Sure, it was a great pilot to a great series, but here’s something to consider: that thing came out 3 AM EST Friday morning. This means that, had I not watched the episode, nothing would’ve gotten the WWE that week. Sometimes, it really is about being in the right place at the right time.

4/17/10 – Daredevil

I had finally finished the series, and was truly impressed by everything I’d seen. To me, this is the WWE that the series definitely *deserved*, while the previous week’s honor was really just me trying to make sure that something had the West Week Ever. That’s not to say that it was a bad pilot, but I feel a lot better about this week because the whole thing was a quality series, and it just means more to me that it maintained its quality across all 13 episodes. So, last week’s WWE for Daredevil was a bit of a fluke, while this is the one that “matters”.

4/24/15 – Iceman

This one is tricky. When it happened, it was definitely a hot topic that week. To me, however, it was a cop-out. Instead of them revealing that the “regular” Iceman was gay, Marvel instead said that it was teenaged, time-displaced, possibly from an alternate timeline Iceman. It was too much of Marvel trying to have its cake and eat it, too. So, imagine my surprise when Uncanny X-Men #600 came out months later, revealing that regular 616 Iceman is also gay, and that he hadn’t acknowledged it because he had enough of his plate, being persecuted for being a mutant and all. To me, that would’ve been a MUCH more important story to tell, but it got lost in the Secret Wars delay shuffle.

5/1/15 – Avengers: Age of Ultron

It was a big movie. In hindsight, was it a good movie? People seem to have differing opinions. At that point in time, though, it had a big opening and a lot of eyes on it, so I think it totally deserved the WWE.

5/8/15 – The New Hamburglar

This was quite the failed marketing push. It seemed like McDonalds was on to something, but this thing disappeared quicker than the Halloween Whopper that was turning everyone’s shit green. This hasn’t been a strong year for McDonalds, as they’re just throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. This year saw the return of The Hamburglar, mozzarella sticks added to the menu, and even mac & cheese added in the Ohio test market. I think this was the victim of public backlash, as folks joked that the new Hamburglar looked kinda like a pedophile. Seems like McDonalds got antsy and canned the whole campaign. Out of everything on 2015’s WWE list, this was probably the biggest fail.

5/15/15 – Major Broadcast Networks

This one may feel like a cop-out, but it was warranted. This was the week of the Spring network upfronts, where we learned what was cancelled, what was renewed, and what new shows were coming in the Fall. This is always an exciting time for television, and I lost a few “friends” that week (ABC’s Forever, for instance).

5/22/15 – David Letterman

Never really been a Letterman fan, but the man was an institution. This was all about giving credit where it was due, and he deserved that WWE honor.

5/29/15 – Kung Fury

This was another example of a slow news week. If you read my thoughts on Kung Fury, I wasn’t actually a fan. I mean, I enjoyed it, but 90% of the “movie” (the thing is THIRTY minutes long!) was given away in the trailer. Seriously, the only thing in the movie that wasn’t in the trailer was the sentient arcade machine. I really expected more. I think I gave the WWE to the *idea* of the project rather than the actual finished product.

6/5/15 – Community

This was the WWE that Community truly earned. The season had concluded, and it was pretty obvious that the show wasn’t coming back. Sort of like Two and a Half Men, Community persevered whenever something happened that shouldn’t ended it.  It lost Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover, got cancelled by NBC, and got picked up by Yahoo for an untested platform. All of these should’ve spelled the end. To me, however, the Yahoo episodes turned out to be some of my favorites of the entire series.

6/12/15 – N/A

Not even a cop-out choice could save this week.

6/19/15 – Jurassic World

Universal had a great year, and Jurassic World was its crowning achievement. I also gave it the WWE because of what JW had done for me. After all, my post, The Price of Admission: The Socioeconomic and Racial Implications of Jurassic World, was my most popular post in years.

6/26/15 – N/A

I swear, I TRY to give something the WWE every week, but sometimes the world just doesn’t cooperate.

7/17/15 – Go Set A Watchman

This choice was kind of a betrayal of what I stand for. Typically, the WWE had to have had some sort of impact on me. I haven’t read this book, nor am I even that big of a fan of To Kill A Mockingbird. I mean, I understand its place in popular culture, and another book in the franchise seemed like a “sure thing”, right? Well, I’ve heard nothing but negative stuff about this book, and it has had the cultural impact of Joey.

7/24/15 – Ant-Man

Loved it, and it was probably a stronger movie than Age of Ultron. I’m a Marvel fanboy, though, so this shouldn’t come as a shock. For that point in time, it totally deserved the WWE.

7/31/15 – Rick and Morty

As much as I enjoy the show, this originally got the WWE because it was a slow week, and the second season premiere had aired that week. In hindsight, though, this was the beginning of what would turn out to be an incredible season. To cap it off, when I went to New York Comic Con later in the year, Rick and Morty cosplay was EVERYWHERE, proving to me that the show had made a bigger cultural impact that I had realized. Totally deserving of the WWE – I just didn’t know it yet.

8/7/15 – Deadpool trailer

The little superhero movie that could. This movie, by all accounts, shouldn’t exist. It’s based on a one-note appearance from the universally panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine, so it’s amazing it got made. Sure, Ryan Reynolds is the perfect choice for the role, but he’s also been box office poison for the past few years. This trailer, however, captured everything a Deadpool movie should be. I still don’t know if it needs to be rated R, as they’re cutting out a portion of potential audience members, but it seems to be everything Deadpool fans would want. The movie’s not out yet, and I still have my doubts, but I think they crafted a good trailer.

8/14/15 – Fant4stic Four

This movie isn’t as bad as your neckbeard friend keeps telling you it is. Most of the people running their mouths about it didn’t even see it. They checked out after the reveal of Black Johnny Storm and the rumor that Doom was just a message board troll instead of a sorcerer. I defended this movie because I think it’s worth checking out, if only to make up your own mind about it. I maintain that it’s 2/3rds a strong movie, while the final 1/3 is clearly a movie “made by committee”. It wasn’t even necessarily a slow news week. I just really thought that Fant4stic Four was deserving of more positive attention.

8/21/15 – Rte 29 Batman, Leonard B. Robinson

This one was a big departure. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve got a “No Death” policy for WWE. I don’t talk about deaths because if you talk about one, you’ve gotta talk about them ALL. And a ton of them just don’t mean that much to me. So, it’s easier to just keep things a death-free zone. That said, Rte 29 Batman was something of a local hero, who donated his time and money to visiting sick kids in the hospital dressed as Batman. He was killed returning from one of these trips, when he was hit by a car on the side of the road. I’ve often wondered why some rich guy hasn’t tried to be Batman, and here was one who had. Sure, he didn’t fight crime, but he wanted to make things better for kids. That’s the kind of thing that’s worth talking about.

8/28/15 – Aqua Teen Hunger Force

I loved Aqua Teen, and it was something of an Adult Swim institution. It was on for 15 years, so I don’t see it leaving the air anytime soon, but its ending was definitely something worth noting. Nobody ever seems to talk about it, so I wonder if it’s a show that wore out its welcome, or if it’s just not the kind of thing folks discuss at the watercooler. After all, most Adult Swim shows seem like stoner fare, so maybe there’s some 420 subreddit out there mourning its cancellation.

9/4/15 – Force Friday

Now that the movie’s out, it’s hard to remember that this was A BIG DEAL! The Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys were being released, giving us the first glimpse of the characters from the hotly anticipated film. I know I was at a midnight Toys “R” Us opening just to get the figures. So many questions: Who was the Black kid? Why did Kylo Ren’s lightsaber have a laser hilt? And who was this badass known as “Captain Phasma”? Sure, all of these questions have now been answered, but this was the beginning of the merchandising onslaught brought on by The Force Awakens. Totally deserving of the WWE.

9/18/15 – Ahmed Mohamed, the Clock Boy

Muslim kid made a clock, but folks thought it was a bomb. Big news story. I actually tend not to get “real world” topical, but it was just one of those weeks. In hindsight, this wasn’t “pop culture” enough for the WWE. Sure, he got a lot of notoriety and offers, but where’s he now? He’s seeking $15 million in damages. That’s not a happy ending. Nah, I wanted him to get a show on Nickelodeon or some shit. THAT’s what gets ya the WWE. I flew a little too close to the CNN sun on this one.

9/25/15 – Pope Francis

The Pope came to the US, and it was Beatlemania all over again. It probably would’ve helped if he had done the talk show circuit or something, but everyone had Pope on the brain. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s skilled at saying exactly what you want to hear. You want to know if the dinosaurs went to Heaven? Pope Francis will not only tell you they did, but he’ll also name some dinosaur species you’ve never even heard of. ‘Cause he’s got connections like that. So yeah, I think he deserved the WWE.

10/2/15 – Power Rangers

If this site had a subtitle, it’d probably be “Amateur Power Rangers fansite”. I maintain just enough of a connection to the franchise to know what’s going on, but I’m not so engrossed that I haven’t experienced the touch of a woman. Was that mean? Check out Rangerboard sometime, and then get back to me. Anyway, the franchise was celebrating its 800th episode, so it sure as Hell deserved the WWE. How many shows reach that kind of episode count? And it’s a 22 year old franchise that’s still going strong.

10/9/15 – New York Comic Con

It was convention weekend. The show hadn’t really gotten started yet, but I had high hopes. In fact, it’s pretty funny that NYCC got the WWE when SDCC did not. I think I gave it to NYCC because I was actually going to that show, and I had hoped to meet up with a bunch of Twitter friends that weekend. That, sadly, did not happen. So, this WWE was given out in the hopes of “what might’ve been, but was not to be”.

10/16/15 – The Nerd Lunch Podcast

As a five-time guest, and member of the Nerd Lunch Army, this totally deserved the WWE. So many podcasts come and go, but they don’t all have staying power. 200 episodes is nothing to sneeze at, and I always have a great time on that show.

10/23/15 – Back to the Future Day

This is one of those picks “for the fans”. I don’t really have a special place in my heart for Back to the Future. I haven’t seen the movies in a long time, so that could have something to do with it. Everyone and their bookie was losing their mind over Back to the Future Day, however, so I couldn’t let the week go by without acknowledging it. The wrong date had been faked on memes for years, so it was a pretty important event that the real day was finally upon us. As something that could only really happen once, and the fact that it resulted in mostly positive things, I think BTTF Day deserved the WWE.

10/30/15 – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This was based on a particular episode that aired that week, which I found to be incredible television. It’s amazing how far the show has come from that terrible first season, and I wanted to find some sort of way to give it its due. There was no better time than this week, which finally revealed what happened to Simmons on the alien world Maveth. Watch the episode and you’ll agree with me.

11/6/15 – Star Trek

This choice was due to the announcement that there would be a new Trek television series in 2017. That’s the end of the good news. There are too many caveats. It’s only going to air on CBS All Access, which is the CBS subscription service. Plus, the folks behind it are the same folks behind the NuTrek movies. After seeing the trailer for Star Trek Beyond a few weeks later, my enthusiasm for this project waned. Still, it was big news in the geek world, though the jury is still out on its execution.

11/13/15 – Master of None

The Aziz Ansari Netflix show kinda became a critical darling, and I was just bandwagoning. I enjoyed it immensely, but I don’t think I really changed the world here. If you were gonna watch it, you were going to before I chimed in. If you were not gonna watch it, I sure as Hell didn’t convince you to do so. Since the dust has settled, there’s been some controversy surrounding some of the race stuff in the show, but I still think it was a great season. This was truly the best thing in pop culture that week.

11/20/15 – Adele

She broke every sales record out there, and she delivered the kind of stuff you expect from her. This was a bit of a reach, as I don’t think my readership shares my musical taste. I like pop. I make no bones about that. Still, whenever I do music posts, they tend to fall on deaf ears, as I don’t have a high 14 year old readership. So, this is one of those WWEs where most of my readers couldn’t give a shit, but I definitely think she earned it.

11/27/15 – Captain America: Civil War trailer

Just when we were catching our breath from Ultron and Ant-Man, the Marvel hype machine cranked back up with this one. It was like a poorly kept secret show or something. Everyone knew Evans and Downey were going to be on Kimmel, and everyone knew why, yet everyone pretended to play dumb. And when it went live, it did what Marvel trailers do: it got you excited for the next chapter in their grand plan.

12/4/15 – The Flash/Arrow “Heroes Join Forces” crossover

Last year’s Flash/Arrow crossover also got the WWE, so I guess it’s a tradition now. The Flash was stronger than Arrow, but it was still entertaining television. DC should just hand their movies over to Greg Berlanti, but that’s another discussion for another time.

12/11/15 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows trailer

They finally seem to be making a movie based on that 30 year old cartoon that grown men love! I don’t know why grownups can’t just let go of stuff so that a new generation can enjoy it. I didn’t hate the last TMNT movie, and I know kids seemed to like it. Still, this sequel seems to be incorporating a lot of things that adult fans will love, especially Shredder’s goons Rocksteady and Bebop. It made me giddy to see them, but it really got me thinking about the legacy of franchises. Maybe there’s a post in there somewhere.

12/17/15 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Um, the premiere of the next installment of a franchise that some fans have been waiting 30 years to see (if they ignore the prequels)? Yeah, this was a no-brainer.

12/23/15 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

See above, and then add in the fact that it made a shit ton of money in a week’s time.

12/31/15 – Hoverboards

While these things popped up on Vines and YouTube back in the summer, they were atop the want lists of all the “normal” folks come Christmas time. And they became infamous. Charging them caused fires to break out, they were banned from most public places, and most retailers refused to sell them. Which only made people want them MORE. It’s somewhat unorthodox to give the WWE to a *thing* rather than a franchise or person, but this seemed fitting.

So, here we are. The moment you’ve all been waiting for: what had the West YEAR Ever? Well, looking back over the nominees, it’s looking like our finalists are the multiple WWE recipients Daredevil, Community, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The interesting thing here is how their “reign” kinda divided up the calendar year. Daredevil was great, but folks were basically done talking about it by Summer. Sure, some sites foolishly tried to do weekly recaps of the episodes, but seeing as how everyone binged that thing, nobody gave a shit about those. Community was around from Spring to Summer, but the season kinda flew under the radar for anyone but the most die hard fans. And once Summer ended, the ramp up to The Force Awakens began. So, what I’m saying is that nobody really carried the year on their shoulders – not like Taylor Swift did last year, or Breaking Bad the year before that. So, this is where I get to use my veto power (’cause it’s my site and all) and award a winner.

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To me, Evelyn West had the West Year Ever. Let me explain. I know some of y’all are “child free” and/or don’t give a shit about my kid, but she really changed my life. It’s not every day that you have your first kid, and stuff really does change. No, I’m not going to get into the mushy stuff. I’m talking practical stuff, like all your stuff goes off to a storage unit, and you’re on bottle-making duty every night. But oddly, you don’t really care. This is probably the worst way to describe a human being, but I sometimes refer to her as “my favorite toy”. She’s just so fascinating, and sometimes I have trouble fathoming that she’s a living, breathing thing. I just like to watch her crawl around and get into stuff she shouldn’t be touching. Plus, we’ve already instilled in her a love of superheroes, so she’s already on the right pop culture track. The clincher, though, is that she was born at the end of March, and has been here ever since. So, that’s more dominance of the calendar year than any of the other options I listed. Sure, you may have been looking forward to The Force Awakens, but I was looking forward to things like her crawling or learning to blow raspberries (which she does with precision). So, in a few days, West Week Ever will be back to normal, and something in the mainstream pop culture world will get the honor. And I don’t plan to have any kids this year, so I can pretty much guarantee that something in the mainstream pop culture world will get the 2016 West Year Ever honor, too. But for now, you’re just gonna have to bear with me, as my daughter pretty much had the West Year Ever in 2015. But if that’s not good enough for you, then you can tell your friends that it was Star Wars. It’s not like they won’t believe you.

18th Sep2015

West Week Ever – 9/18/15

by Will



Welcome to a mega-sized edition of West Week Ever! I’m sorry I took a week off, but I had a pretty serious toothache that had the whole right side of my face in pain. Now I know how Harvey Dent felt! Anyway, let’s get on with the show.


So, last week we celebrated Labor Day, but I wasn’t around to talk about it. Did I do anything exciting? No. I did something kinda stupid. You see, at 1 AM Monday morning, it dawned on me that I was about 6 weeks behind on Mr. Robot. Everywhere I turned, people were posting thinkpieces about the show’s season finale, and I’d been trying to avoid that corner of the Internet until I caught up. So, what better time to get caught up, right? Ugh. Next thing I knew, the sun was coming up, and I had no idea what I had just watched. Don’t get me wrong – I love the show, but there’s just so much of it I don’t care about. Like, I didn’t care about the Steel Mountain heist, or the Dark Army or really any of the hacker shit. I liked when Elliott did the stuff on his own, but I could do without the fsociety Scooby Gang. No, the plot itself meant little to me compared to the characters. The characters like Elliott, Tyrell, and Mr. Robot himself kept me on my toes. You never knew what they’d do next, and that’s why I was tuning in. I don’t want to spoil anything for folks who haven’t finished the season, but I’m really curious to know where they’ll go next season. And that after credits scene! I mean, what show has an after credits scene? I’m still trying to figure out what that whole thing meant. Out of summer shows, I probably didn’t enjoy Mr. Robot as much as I did Wayward Pines, but it was a close second.

the splat

Rumor has it that 90s NickToons will be returning in the form of The Splat! For now, according to Entertainment Weekly, it has only been confirmed as a programming block, so it’s not clear if it will be its own standalone network, like Boomerang, or if it will just be a block of programming on an existing channel, like Adult Swim. I, for one, hate the name and the logo. It comes across like a porn zine made by a 14 year old. Anyway, I didn’t have cable in the 90s, so I don’t have any real love for those shows, but I know that a lot of y’all reading this are probably excited about it.


It’s been a week of apologies, as folks are sorry for stupid shit left and right. First off, the week began with former Ms. America Vanessa Williams as a celebrity judge for this year’s pageant. For you young folks out there, Vanessa was the first Black Miss America – until Penthouse posted some old nude photos of her, and she was forced to relinquish her title. Vanessa bounced back from it all, becoming a singer, actress, blah, blah, blah. It’s like when you lose American Idol, but end up more famous than the winner. After all, who gives a shit about Suzette Charles, the runner-up who assumed Vanessa’s title after the scandal? Anyway, Vanessa saved the best for last, and ended up better off than she’d been. Well, during this week’s pageant, the Miss America Organization formally apologized to Vanessa for everything that had gone down…31 years ago. Wut? Why? And why now? Had this been the Miss USA Pageant, I’d get it, since they need to wash the Trump stench off of them, but this just seemed odd. I won’t say “too little, too late”, but it almost felt like they were drudging up stuff that everyone had pretty much moved on from. The whole thing just seemed odd, but Vanessa graciously accepted the apology, and is back in the Miss America fold. They still ain’t restoring her title, though.


Meanwhile, The League star Steve Rannazzisi admitted that he’s been lying for 14 years that he survived the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The story he’d been telling was that he worked at Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower. He’d said that he made it to the street just as the second plane hit his building. After surviving the attacks, he realized that life was precious and decided to pursue his dream of being an entertainer. Welp, the story he’d been telling for 14 years was finally debunked this week. It turns out he was actually working in Midtown that day, and Merrill Lynch had no offices in the World Trade Center. The interesting thing is that it seems like his wife was in on the lie. After all, part of his story is that his then-girlfriend, now-wife was also slated to work on the 24th floor of the south tower, but never made it to the building. It has since been reported, however, that she was actually temping at the nearby World Financial Center, but not in the tower. So, this whole thing seems like one giant Rannazzisi Family Secret that was finally exposed. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to his career, as things were just starting to happen for him. He’s the public face of Buffalo Wild Wings (who are currently reevaluating their relationship with him), and his new standup special, Breaking Dad, is scheduled to premiere on Comedy Central tomorrow night. Meanwhile, The League has filmed 11 of this season’s 13 episodes, and FX Networks is standing by him for the rest of the season. He’s not really a “name”, and more people know him from this scandal now than from his work. The question now is whether his career is over, or if people will give him a second chance.


Speaking of second chances, remember Justine Sacco? If you don’t remember, her life was ruined back in 2013 by one tweet:

sacco tweet


That tweet went viral, and by the time she got off the plane in Africa, she had already been fired. She went on to write several articles about what she learned from the experience, and mainly she just wanted to get her life back. Well, it appears that she’s now that Director of Communications at FanDuel – ya know, that fantasy football site that claims you can win millions of dollars a week or something? Yeah, that one. It seems fitting, as those are exactly the kind of dude-bros who’d get a kick out of what she did. I guess she’s finally getting her life back, so Hulk Hogan and Steve Rannazzisi just have to sit tight and the same will happen for them.


In the world of comics, it was revealed that Spider-Man’s former wife, Mary Jane Watson, will be a supporting character in the upcoming Invincible Iron Man series. Marvel won’t comment on what exactly her role will be, but they reminded us that Tony likes redheads. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I mean, the Marvel Universe is a shared universe, so it makes sense to have some supporting character crossovers. That said, she’s just such an iconic Spider-Man character, that I have a hard time accepting her in someone else’s world. I really hope she’s something like Tony’s personal assistant or something, as I’ve got too much love for Peter and Pepper to accept that their mates are pairing off.

jessica jones

In the TV corner of the Marvel Universe, it was revealed last week that Jessica Jones will debut on Netflix on November 20th – perfect for Thanksgiving bingewatching. If you’re not familiar with the character yet, she’s a former hero-turned-private investigator in the Marvel Universe. Eventually she marries Power Man, Luke Cage, and they have a daughter together. In the show, she will be going up against The Purple Man, which happened in the final arc of her comic series, Alias. Mike Colter’s Luke Cage will also appear before starring in his own series next year. As I’ve said before, I love Krysten Ritter, and I love this character, but I don’t love the idea of Krysten Ritter playing this character. The casting just seems all wrong to me, but I’ve got to learn to trust Marvel, so we’ll just have to see how it turns out.


Just sit right back, and let Uncle Will tell you a tale. Some might say this story is about the Best Time Ever. You see, about a month ago, I applied to be on a game show. This isn’t necessarily new, as I’ve washed out of the Jeopardy test twice already. This particular game show, however, was an untested quantity. The show was new, so it was like getting in on the ground floor of something. I actually filled out the application on a whim, as one of my Twitter friends had mentioned that he was gonna do it. Mainly they wanted to know more about me and my pop culture knowledge. I had to give them links to instances of my online presence, and then I had to answer some questions. So, I spent a lot of the time talking about a cappella, Pitch Perfect, and working in comics. Ya know, stuff that’d make me seem “quirky”. Well, I guess it worked, as I received a call from “Sage”, who I assume was a production assistant on the show, within 24 hours. Damn, that was some fast turnaround! Unfortunately for me, I missed her call. So, I called her back, and left a message. We played phone tag for about a week and a half until her side gave up. One day, “Nicole” answered the phone and said that someone would call me back, but I knew that I had pretty much come to the end of the road.


That show was Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, which premiered Tuesday night on NBC. One of the stipulations of the application was that I wasn’t allowed to publicly say anything negative about NBC (which was especially hard since Mr. Robinson had just premiered. Ugh!). Since the show only has an 8-week trial run, and Sage was probably fired or has gone on to bigger things, I think I’m free to discuss things now.

So, did I dodge a bullet? I’m not quite sure yet. An American adaptation of The UK’s Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Best Time Ever was seen as the Return of the Variety Show Age of the 70s. As with all things, however, the concept had to be modernized and updated, and I’m not quite sure it worked. I know it was just the premiere, but the show was all over the place. A friend on Twitter said that it came off like a Japanese game show, and it certainly was that crazy. NPH went from stalking a newlywed couple to fake auditioning for The Voice to challenging Celebrity Guest Announcer Reese Witherspoon to some American Ninja Warrior-type of race – and he didn’t even let her win! That’s what most critics have been talking about: the fact that there’s almost too much focus on NPH himself. Based on the premiere, the title should be stylized as best time ever with NEIL PATRICK HARRIS.

Get Lucky

The part that I would’ve participated in was later in the show, in a segment called “Get Lucky”, where NPH calls someone out of the audience up on stage to answer trivia. It’s kinda like The Price Is Right, although I’m pretty sure that chick knew beforehand that she was being called. That was the weird thing about the application – they made it sound like being on the show was a given (I guess since they need an audience), but there was no guarantee that you’d get to play. This was made apparent by the fact that this woman was the lone contestant of the whole night. And what questions did he ask? Strangely enough, a lot of them pertained to NBC/Universal properties. That’s corporate synergy for ya. The chick did win a shitload of stuff, but there wasn’t even a lot of focus on the prizes once they had been won. I think they were running short on time, seeing as how it’s a live show.

At the end of the day, the ratings for the premiere were just OK. The real test, however, is going to be when the show moves to its 8 PM timeslot, where it’ll go up against CBS’s NCIS and ABC’s The Muppets. I think it’s gonna be a LONG 8 weeks. Am I sad about missing out? Kinda. I mean, it would’ve been cool to be on TV, and I knew all the answers to that trivia, so it would’ve been easy prizes. Still, instead of being the next Jeopardy, this show might merely end up as a footnote in game show history. I think that’s part of the problem – it doesn’t know if it wants to commit to being a variety show or a game show. I wasn’t born in the 70s, but from what I’ve seen, there wasn’t as much audience interaction in the variety shows of the past. Maybe that’s the problem here. Anyway, NPH did pull an awesome backflip off of a pogo stick, which was probably the highlight of the episode. I know that’s what I’ll remember.


Speaking of television, last night I had the pleasure of joining Corey over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast, as we discussed the upcoming Falll television schedule. He’d recently written about which new shows he thought would be cancelled, as well as which he felt would get a second season, so we debated those lists. If you love television, and want to weigh in, check out the episode here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– Arnold Schwarzenegger was announced as the new host of Celebrity Apprentice. I hope he says “You-uh Fy-ud.”

– The Rock is having The Pebble, as Dwayne Johnson and girlfriend Lauren Hashian are expecting

– The G.I. Joe cartoon series debuted 30 years ago this week. Yo Joe!

– NBC is developing a gay reboot of the 80s series Hart to Hart

– Speaking of NBC, The Carmichael Show has been renewed for a second season

– Meanwhile, NBC is also developing a prequel to the Taken film series. I assume it’ll be called You ‘Bout To Get Took. I’m just playing. That’d be the BET version.

Pacific Rim 2 has been delayed indefinitely, possibly permanently. The first one’s still on my DVR…

– TNBC hit Hang Time debuted 20 years ago last week. I’m so friggin’ old…

– Rachel McAdams confirmed that she will be starring alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

– Rumor has it that companion Jenna Coleman will be leaving Doctor Who later this year to star as Queen Victoria in an ITV series. Yay, British shit!

– Director Rupert Wyatt has exited the Gambit movie that nobody wants

-After 7 seasons, someone finally won American Ninja Warrior. Guess Americans just weren’t cut out for that whole “ninja” thing until recently. I blame meat hormones.

– Amazon announced a new $50 7″ Fire tablet, which will also be sold in 6-packs for the price of 5 ($250). Yes, they’re selling tablets like soda now, apparently.


Links I Loved

The Undertaker Needs to Retire. Right Now. – Complex

Terrence Howard Is a Bad Person Who Is Also Crazy – Defamer

5 Things You Learn When A Facebook Friend Dies – Cracked

The Caucasian’s Guide to Black Barbecues – Michael Harriot

10 New Fall Shows That Will Be Cancelled By Christmas – UnderScoopFire

10 New Fall Shows Guaranteed to Get a Second Season – UnderScoopFire

10 Rare Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys Part 2 – Crooked Ninja

6 Observations about The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – Nerd Lunch

U.S. Theme Parks with the Most Deaths – The Robot’s Pajamas

Forever Season 2: Find Out What Would’ve Become of Henry and Jo – TVLine


What can I say about Ahmed Mohamed that you don’t already know? The 14 year old created a homemade digital clock, but was arrested for taking it to school, as it was suspected to be a bomb. Why? ‘Cause he’s brown and brown people apparently don’t just build clocks for shits and giggles. Once his story got out, it inspired the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag as people showed their support for the kid. But it didn’t stop there. All of a sudden, he started getting offers from everywhere from MIT to NASA, all encouraging him to continue building, and asking to meet him. Hell, even Ne-Yo got in on it:

neyoThat mixtape is gonna be FIRE!



HOLY SHIT! I don’t care how the week started for this kid, it ended in ways he could never have imagined. Or could he? Some folks out there think he knew what he was doing by putting the clock in a metal briefcase, but that’s really neither here nor there. All I know is that Ahmed Mohamed can now write his own ticket. His future is set. He might as well just start referring to himself as The Clock King. It’s a wrap. No human has been this synonymous with clocks since Flava Flav, and nobody was giving that dude space camp scholarships or shirts that have been in space. I don’t really feel like getting into the politics of it all, nor do I feel like this is gonna start any new dialogue on race, but I do know that Ahmed Mohamed, hands down, had the West Week Ever.

26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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I watched absolutely nothing this week, so I’ve got nothing for this part of the post. Oh wait – I did watch The Briefcase on CBS. Have any of you seen it? It was pretty controversial when it first aired, and the season finale is already airing tonight. Basically, they present a briefcase filled with $100,000 to two different poor families. The families, then, have to decide whether to keep the money for themselves, or to share some of it with the other family. So, they’re demanding poor people make a Sophie’s Choice over this windfall that could be seen as a gift from Heaven. I mean, they all could use the money, but they don’t wanna look like assholes by keeping it all to themselves. Later in the show, once the families meet, they realize that there were TWO briefcases, and not just the one that was presented to them, so there’s $200,000 up for grabs. On the episode that I watched, one family gave $20,000 to the other family, while the second family gave $11,000 to the first family. So, they both ended up with the bulk of the money. For each of them, the amount given was such a drop in the bucket that I would’ve been offended, but they at least pretended to be thankful. They both owed so much money that the full $100K still wouldn’t have solved all their problems. I really hope there’s a “Where Are They Now” episode next season if the show gets renewed.


Lots of news in the world of Spider-Man this week. First off, it was reported that Miles Morales, formerly the Ultimate Spider-Man, will be the MAIN Spider-Man in the regular Marvel Universe following the Secret Wars event. The new series, Spider-Man, will be handled by the Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man team of Brian Michael Bendis and Sarah Pichelli, and it also appears that a retired Peter Parker will serve as his mentor. I’ve written about my love for Miles in the past, and I’ve also written about how an association with Peter could only be a good thing for Miles. This is a pretty big deal, as Miles will also be one of the New Avengers as that team rebuilds following the event. I’m really excited for this, but part of me is wondering “How long is this really gonna last?” Comics have tricked us with “cowl rental” in the past, and the original wearer always comes back. I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, and I really want this to be a permanent thing, but I just know better than to get too excited about it yet.


Meanwhile, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel and Sony decided on Tom Holland, and not Asa Butterfield, as the next actor to portray Peter Parker/Spider-Man. A moment of silence for Andrew Garfield. Not only will Holland star in the 2017 Spider-Man film, but he has been confirmed to debut in next Spring’s Captain America: Civil War. In fact, they say that he has already been sent to the set to start filming his scenes. Meanwhile, Jon Watts has been tapped to direct the next Spidey film, which will only be his third feature film.


Also this week in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was rumored that Selma‘s Ava Duvernay had been hired to direct Marvel’s Black Panther. While Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed that they’ve had talks with DuVernay, her hiring is still just speculation at this point. While I know she’d bring a certain amount of, I guess, “legitimacy” to the movie, I don’t really know if that’s what her career needs. Sure, Kenneth Branagh directed Thor, but I kinda hate that we live in a period where it’s assumed that EVERY director needs to have a superhero film under his/her belt. I mean, other than the fact that they both feature Black casts, why would you think the director of Selma would automatically be the best person to showcase the king and world of Wakanda? To me, that’s just as dumb as the marriage between Storm and Black Panther which seemed based solely on the fact that they’re both African. It’s just sort of stupid that once you’re on everyone’s radar these days, it’s assumed your next move will be a superhero film.


Also in movies this week, Rotten Tomatoes held a Q&A livestream with the cast of the Independence Day sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. I guess the importance of the event was to showcase the new title, but it just seemed kinda like a sad affair. Instead of being excited about the movie (which is a year away), I was more sad for these actors that they didn’t have anything else lined up. I mean, even secondary characters like Vivica Fox, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch are back. Hell, if Harvey Fierstein hadn’t died in the first one, they probably would’ve gotten him back, too. But there is one glaring omission: Will Smith, who reportedly wanted $50 million to do the two planned sequels. So, instead of having him, they cast actor Jessie Usher (who?) as Smith’s character’s son. Anyway, since filming just started a month ago, they really didn’t have much info to share. I’m not sure whose idea it was to schedule this thing so early, but it was just an awkward, uncomfortable mess.

Photographer Dennis Stylist Lin

Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

Some San Diego Comic-Con exclusives are starting to trickle out (you can get up-to-the-minute coverage over at Awesome Toy Blog), but my favorite is probably this Toys “R” Us exclusive Batgirl figure. I was a pretty devoted collector of the Batman ’66 line, and I’ve been waiting for this figure since it was announced over a year ago. I really kinda hate that it’s an exclusive (especially since it’s a TRU exclusive, exclusively for SDCC – it’s an exclusive inception!), as that means it’ll be harder to get than just walking into your local TRU store. It seems that TRU actually posts these for sale on their website during the convention, so I’ll try my luck at getting one that way. I’ll need two – one to open and one to put in storage. Yes, I’m that guy. Sometimes.


It was quite a week for fallen child stars. First off, young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, who apparently suffers from schizophrenia, attacked his mom before setting off a high speed police chase. Then, Saved By The Bell‘s Dustin Diamond was ordered to serve 4 months in jail for stabbing a guy back in December.


In the world of music, Taylor Swift surprisingly became the voice for artists’ rights when she declined to allow her album 1989 to be offered via Apple Music’s streaming service. This is nothing new for Taylor, as she also yanked all of her albums off Spotify a few months ago. Still, she wrote an open letter to her fans, saying that she couldn’t go along with Apple, seeing as how they weren’t going to be paying artists royalties for the first three months of the service. Well, she cried and Apple listened. Responding to her on Twitter, Apple senior vice president of internet software and services, Eddie Cue, said, “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid,” tweeted Cue. “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Now if she could only squash that beef with Katy Perry that easily…


I don’t usually get too political on here, but this has been some kind of week. As I’m sure you know, there’s been a lot of movement to get the Confederate flag taken down at southern government buildings. Then things really shifted into turbo, as Wal-Mart, Amazon and more announced that they would no longer be selling items bearing the flag. Then Warner Bros announced that they wouldn’t sell any more Dukes of Hazzard merchandise with the flag on it. When all of this stuff was happening, I jokingly tweeted that I was fine with the flag being on the General Lee. And then they pulled it. Finally, Apple kinda screwed the pooch by removing Civil War games from the App Store because they depicted the flag. I say “screwed the pooch”, as this is almost like pulling a textbook because the flag was in it. It’s a part of history, but that’s where it should remain. If it’s a game or book about history, then it seems kinda fitting for it to be in there. It just probably shouldn’t be flying high like we’re still all in 1861.

As a Black man in America, it should be pretty clear where I stand on this matter. As someone whose relatives hail from the South, it has even more meaning to me. I’m conflicted, though, ’cause I grew up loving The Dukes of Hazzard. I guess you could say that I didn’t know any better, but I was an avid fan of the “Cars Jumping Over Shit” genre of television that ruled the early 80s. I was asked to write a guest post about my stance on this, and I really didn’t know how to approach it without coming off like some kind of race traitor. I hate the flag, but I love the General Lee. I’m not going to get into a debate about whether or not the flag represents racism or any of that. You already have your opinion, and some rando’s pop culture blog isn’t about to change that. I will say this, though: Nice work, America.

I say that sarcastically because this whole thing was NEVER about the flag to begin with. I have a pretty strict No Death policy for West Week Ever, but everyone knows that 9 people were killed in a church last week. And, as these things are prone to do, the debate about gun control was just about to start up and then all this flag shit happened. This is what they want. Instead of doing something about guns, they’ve diverted our attention to this other matter, hoping we’ll forget the first thing. And I don’t say this as some kind of “Nobody needs guns!” kind of person. I honestly haven’t fully fleshed out my views on the matter, but I do know that a church is supposed to be a safe place. Just like a school. Or a movie theater. And none of that is true anymore.

Keep the flag or get rid of it. That’s not what any of this is about. It’s about changing the conversation, and it’s been very successful. I guess we’ll revisit the original conversation after the next mass shooting. Or maybe we’ll finally change the Redskins’ name instead. End of soapbox rant.

Links I Loved

‘Star Trek’: The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in ‘Next Generation’ History – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Rudd and Marvel’s Kevin Feige Reveal ‘Ant-Man’s’ Saga, from Director Shuffle to Screenplay Surgery to Studio’s “Phase Three” Plans – The Hollywood Reporter

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

Harmony Korine on ‘Kids’: ‘It Would Be Impossible To Make That Film Now’ – The Guardian

The Least-Plausible G.I. Joe and Cobra Vehicles – The Robot’s Pajamas


Now this is typically the part where I tell you who had the West Week Ever, but I’m gonna try something different this week. You see, I’ve been working on a project that I kinda want to share with you.

After guesting on some 40+ podcasts, I always get the same question: When are you going to start your own podcast? Well, I never really wanted to because A) I’m lazy and B) I didn’t really think there was a demand. I mean, I already have to beg folks to read this thing every week, so why would I think they’d want to listen to me, too? It just didn’t seem worthwhile. Then, I had a conversation with my Twitter Sister, Brandi Brown. I call her that because we’re basically the same person, only she’s a stand-up comic in Minnesota, and I’m not. We started talking about Carmen Sandiego, and then we just fell down the rabbit hole trying to make sense of that whole franchise. We decided that it would probably be a good idea for a one-off podcast. As we kept talking, we realized that we had a few topics that deserved to be discussed – the only catch would be that this wouldn’t be a weekly show. Hell, it might not even be monthly. Think of it like a series of specials. If they do well, then we’ll figure out where to go next, but for now, we’re just thinking of this being an occasional sort of thing. Well, our good buddy Classick, over at the Cold Slither Podcast Network, invited us to be on the latest episode of his Classick Team-Up show. That episode was to serve as something of a “backdoor pilot” for the show that Brandi and I had devised. Oh, you don’t know what a backdoor pilot is? It’s when an episode of an existing show is used to spin off a new show. Got it? Good.

It was a lot of fun recording this, as we tackled topics such as Rachel Dolezal, paying it forward, and the conspiracy theories that we hold dear. The project is clearly a work in progress, so bear that in mind. We’ve got to figure out things like audio levels, podcast setup, mics, etc. Still, I think there’s a lot of potential here. So, I ask that you give it a listen and let me know what you think. Do you want more Brandi & Will? It’s all up to you. If not, I’ll be cool with that, too. Sure, I might cry a little, but I’ll get over it. So, in lieu of a West Week Ever, I give you Classick Team-Up #27 with Brandi & Will.

Oh, and there won’t be a post next week ’cause y’all never read it on a holiday weekend. So, unless something crazy happens and I write it on Thursday, we’re taking a week off.

06th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/6/15

by Will




Well, the week started out with me watching Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of. I’d known of this documentary for a while, but I had planned to wait until it aired on HBO later this year. Well, the movie was released On Demand and theatrically at the same time, and I had nothing to do Friday night, so I fired up that On Demand. I’m a boyband fanatic, so this was really a no-brainer, but I was surprised to learn a bunch of stuff that I never knew before. Here’s the gist of the documentary: to celebrate their 20th anniversary tour, as well as the return of group member Kevin Richardson (he took a few years off), the Backstreet Boys decide to visit each member’s hometown in order to learn more about each other. It’s designed to tug on the heartstrings, as you relive familial deaths, fights, and other drama. You also get to see what it’s like being a grown man in a “boyband”. Hint: it ain’t pretty. Brian’s voice now unreliably comes and goes, while AJ has had two knee replacement surgeries. Some stuff I knew, like how the guys felt betrayed that their manager Lou Pearlman essentially created their competition when he created *NSYNC. Some stuff I didn’t know, however, like the fact that Howie D sang all of the leads before the guys started recording. Once they got the “Max Martin sound”, he was pushed to the background, and has quietly resented it the past 20 years. The documentary is not for young viewers, however, as they say “fuck” a LOT. There’s even a pretty intense screaming match between Brian and Nick that’ll leave you uncomfortable. In fact, Nick seems uncomfortable throughout the entire affair.  This is especially apparent when they visit Lou Pearlman’s old mansion, seeing as how there were allegations that Lou may have molested the Carter boys. If you’re a Nick fan, you’re just gonna worry for him. Anyway, if you’re a longtime fan of the group, it’s a great documentary and I recommend checking it out.


On the Netflix front, I caught Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats. I was familiar with Peretti from her acting gigs, such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I’d never really heard her standup. She’s funny, though it wasn’t hilarious. It was striving to be surreal in ways that I’m not quite sure worked. For example, she’d tell a joke, and then they’d randomly pan to a dog in the audience, to elicit a “There’s a dog in the audience!!!” response. There was also a bunch of awkward audience participation bits. It probably played better on paper, but the execution was left wanting. Anyway, it’s a decent way to kill an hour, as her material was pretty good.



I also checked out the FXX series Man Seeking Woman, which is a really quirky show. For lack of a better description, it’s kinda like a live action Family Guy, with metaphorical cutaways. It stars Jay Baruchel, who breaks up with his college sweetheart and has to get back into the dating world. In the pilot, his sister sets him up with a literal troll named Gorbachaka, while his ex-girlfriend is now dating Hitler. Yes, that Hitler. Apparently, he faked his death and is now 127 years old. See, that’s the kind of thing Family Guy would try to pull. I watched the first 3 episodes, and I love anything that Baruchel does, so I’ll be keeping up with it for the rest of the season. It’s just a shame that it airs opposite Broad City, so it’ll be an a DVR show for now.


ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat debuted a week earlier than its announced premiere date, and it seems like folks loved it. Based on the memoirs of Eddie Huang, it follows a young hip-hop loving Chinese kid whose family moves from DC to Florida so that his father can achieve the American Dream. ABC showed 2 episodes Wednesday night (before and after the hit Modern Family), and I was able to catch the pilot. In all, it was a funny show. It’ll be interesting to see how the racial politics play out. I was kinda disappointed that it had to be the black kid to call Eddie a “chink”, but if that’s how the story actually happened, then so be it. I wish we could’ve heard what Eddie called him back, but I’m sure you can’t say those words on network television. Anyway, the real test will be when FOTB moves to its regular timeslot, Tuesdays at 8. That’s a hard night, as it’ll be going against The Flash, Masterchef/Masterchef Juniors, and Parks & Recreation. ABC is having a hard enough time with Tuesdays, as Selfie and Manhattan Love Story failed there earlier this season, meanwhile Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. haven’t been ratings blockbusters. Fresh Off The Boat won’t have the benefit of a lead-in, so the night will land squarely on its shoulders.


The Netflix Daredevil trailer was released this week, giving us a taste of what to expect when the series hits this April. A lot of people are applauding the gritty tone of the trailer, but I think it looks kinda fan filmy. Maybe it’s because he’s not in his iconic suit yet, but it just looks kinda…low budget to me. This was just a teaser, though – maybe we’ll get a better look at the show closer to its debut.


I got some of the best news ever this week when it was announced that Trina McGee and Blake Clark will be appearing on Girl Meets World. McGee played Shawn Hunter’s girlfriend, Angela, on Boy Meets World while Clark played his dad, Chet Hunter. McGee left the show when Angela’s dad, The Last Dragon‘s Sho’ Nuff, decided that he wanted her to come live with him. Meanwhile, Chet Hunter died in the later seasons of the show, but reappeared a few times to give Shawn advice. When Shawn appeared on the Christmas episode of Girl Meets World, it was revealed that he’s disappointed that he hasn’t found anyone to settle down with yet. I hope hope hope this means they’re going to reunite Shawn and Angela, as teenage Will lived for that relationship (and had a huge crush on Angela). For now, all we know is that the episode is titled “Girl Meets Hurricane”.


Earlier this week, I wrote about former Power Ranger Ricardo Medina Jr and his alleged murder case. Well, it appears that he’s been released. The DA wants to make sure that he has all the facts, so no charges are being pressed at this time. So remember, if the sword don’t fit, Zordon must acquit. Yeah, that was lame…


Speaking of Power Rangers, the latest season, Power Rangers Dino Charge, debuts tomorrow morning on Nick. The pilot was actually released on Nick.com last week, so I, and most fans, have already seen it. As a fan, this won’t come as much of a surprise, but I really liked it. It felt fresh, which is hard to do with a franchise that’s been around this long. I’ll also say that it’s the first Power Rangers incarnation that actually feels like a Nick show. I’m not sure if it’s the dialogue or the acting, but it actually feels like it’s on the right network for a change. I’m kinda tired of dinosaurs, and I hate the design of the suits, but I’ll be checking in on it every now and then.

Things You Might’ve Missed This Week

-Damon Wayans Jr. is leaving New Girl at the end of the season.

-The Titans lineup for the in-development TNT series will include Nightwing, Hawk, Dove, Starfire, Raven, and Oracle.

Sports Illustrated is “making history” by featuring plus-size model Ashley Graham in an ad in the annual swimsuit issue.

Links I Loved

The Ever-Expanding Spider-Man Family of Comics – The Kliqnation

Breakdown of the Daredevil Trailer for Netflix – The Robot’s Pajamas

Lorne Michaels on 40 Years of ‘SNL’: Being “‘Feared’ Was Never My Goal” – The Hollywood Reporter


You’ve all seen this already because it was on EVERY website, Jimmy Fallon had a Saved By The Bell reunion on The Tonight Show. I love that he finally got to do this, as it’s something he’d been working on since he was hosting Late Night. In fact, when he wasn’t able to get the whole cast, he went with a California Dreams reunion instead. I not-so-secretly love California Dreams more than Saved By The Bell (I think it was the musical aspect), so that was just fine with me. Still, I love when a plan comes together, so it was cool that he finally got his SBTB reunion. It’s funny how Screech and Lisa aren’t present, though they aren’t even missed. I always hated Lisa, while I could take or leave Screech most of the time, so I felt this reunion was perfect. My love of TNBC shows knows no bounds, so that’s why Jimmy Fallon’s Saved By The Bell reunion had the West Week Ever.

25th Sep2014

West Week Ever – 9/26/14

by Will




warrior dash

The week started out with me in CT, taking part in the Warrior Dash. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a mud run obstacle course, but not as hardcore as the Spartan Race. I’d never done anything like it, but my college friends James, Jenn, and Debra wanted to do it, so I decided to make the trip up there. Seeing as how I can’t swim, I was planning to skip all of the obstacles that had to do with water. Little did I realize that the very first obstacle would be in the water. We had to walk through neck-high water to a raft, climb up on it, walk across, and walk to the shore through the water again. I sucked it up and did it, even though I could’ve drowned. When everything was said and done, I didn’t end up skipping any of the obstacles, and I’m pretty proud of myself. I did mess up my knees on the rope ladders, but they’ll heal. If you ever have a chance to do a mud run, it’s definitely something different. I’m still not sure if I’ll do it again, even though my friends are already excited for next year.


While in Connecticut, I developed an addiction to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. I am far from a “gamer”, and I especially suck at first-person shooters. Something about this game, however, clicked for me. When we first started playing, I couldn’t even figure out how to turn my head, but by Sunday afternoon, I was killing terrorists with the best of them. Outside of the Warrior Dash, most of our time was spent playing that game. In fact, I played so much that I’d see it when I closed my eyes to sleep. I’m finally able to sleep without seeing terrorists around every corner, but I’m seriously considering buying that game.


On to pop culture news! It was announced early in the week that Kenan Thompson would be leaving Saturday Night Live at the end of the season. Then, there was some backpedaling, as sources started reporting that the initial announcement may have been premature. So, no one really knows what’s going on right now. It would certainly be a blow to the show, even though some folks might say that it’s been a long time coming. One writer, when speaking to Slate, basically said that Kenan can save any weak sketch, and SNL definitely needs a guy like that these days.

The leads for season 2 of HBO’s True Detective were announced this week, and it seems like Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell will be our new cop duo. I enjoyed the first season, but I fall into the camp who felt it was overrated. Part of this could be due to the fact that I binge-watched it in a day. I felt like it tried to build this weird mythology within the case that didn’t have a lot of payoff. Maybe it’s because every drama in post-Lost television feels it needs something mystical to hook the viewer, but I feel like the show would’ve been just as strong if they’d handled a straightforward murder case instead of the Yellow King stuff. A lot of folks are upset about this casting news, as they were hoping for possible female leads, but I like Vaughn, and I now have HBO, so I’ll give it a shot.


As a Batman fan, I’m sure some people wonder what I thought about Gotham. Well, to be honest, I only saw the last 15 minutes. I wasn’t sure I was gonna watch it because I really have no desire to see another Batman origin story. I have big problems with the purpose of the show. Unlike Smallville, which is where Clark Kent spent his formative years, Gotham holds very little meaning for Bruce Wayne’s development. I mean, it’s the site of his parents’ deaths, but his training takes place around the globe. If it were a show about THAT, then I’d probably watch. There are a lot of “lost” tales from that era, as we got most of our knowledge of his training from Batman Begins. Other than that, we don’t know much, and I’d be down for a show about that. Maybe a show about Bruce training with Henri Ducard. This show, however, starts with Bruce as a KID, and intends to follow him as such. There’s no story there. In the meantime, I don’t really care about seeing where Edward Nygma and Oswald Cobblepot came from. It’s enough that they exist, but this show seems to want to wrap a nice little bow on all of their origin stories. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before they start teasing The Joker, because they won’t be able to help themselves. I also don’t like the casting, except Donal Logue – who was born to play Bullock. They’re reairing the pilot tonight on Fox, so I’ll watch the whole thing to give it a fair shake, but I don’t think this show is for me.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came back and introduced Absorbing Man. It was nice they finally went with an existing, established comic villain, and it was a decent enough episode, but I still don’t really like anyone but Coulson and Triplett. And now there are two black guys, so it’s only a matter of time before one of them dies. On the ratings side of things, the premiere wasn’t much higher than last season’s finale. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if it lasts until Avengers 2, it will have done its job. This was never a show with the staying power to last 7 seasons. If it turned out to be a massive hit, then that would’ve been great, but the real purpose of the show was the whet our appetites for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in between movies. On its own, it’s a dud, but when linked to that universe, like with The Winter Soldier, it has a lot of potential. The problem with 22 episodes of television is that it has to tread water until these beats present themselves. It’s nice to see that Marvel’s willing to take chances and, luckily, they’re only “miss” has been on TV and not cinematic. I’m saying Agent Carter is a one and done show, while Agents will probably wrap up after season 3.

The show I was most anticipating was ABC’s Black-ish, which premiered after Modern Family Wednesday night. I’ve loved Anthony Anderson since he was Teddy on Hang Time, and I knew his career would eventually amount to something. It’s a comedic take on the struggle to maintain one’s cultural identity while also fitting in with the world. There’s a lot of “Black people do this, and white people do this” humor, but it wasn’t as hackneyed as your typical Comic View comedian. I think the show has a lot of heart, and it launched to big numbers, so I think it’s a keeper. Unless something crazy happens over the next few weeks, it’ll definitely get a full season pickup. I think ABC’s got a hit on their hands. I am, however, curious to know how white audiences felt about the show. On Twitter, black viewers were pretty vocal in their support, but I wondered if some of the race stuff was too “on the nose” for some white viewers. Anybody wanna share their thoughts in the comments?


Ya know, I considered giving this honor to Derek Jeter, but then I remembered that this is MY site and that I don’t care about sports. In I know Jeter’s a future Hall of Famer, and I’ve heard he “plays the game the right way”, but I know him more for the notches on his bedpost. Mariah Carey, Minka Kelly, Jessica Biel? The man is only surpassed by Justin Timberlake when it comes to the women who have streamed through his bedroom. No, I decided to take about my favorite show so far of the fall season: Forever.

When I did my ABC upfronts post, I said that this show might have a hard time if it just poses questions without answering them. It’s the only show so far this season to have aired two episodes (it premiered on Monday, and moved to its regular timeslot on Tuesday), so I’ve got more to go on for it than with the other new shows. Forever stars Ioan Gruffudd, whom Americans may remember as Reed Richards in the Fantastic Four movies. I love that guy, and I think he’s my Colin Firth. There’s just something dashing about him, so maybe I’m biased. Anyway, Gruffudd plays Henry Morgan, a medical examiner for the New York Police Department. He knows a LOT about death, mainly, because he can’t die. Sure, he dies, but he always comes back to life – naked and in a body of water. He’s been enduring this cycle for over 300 years, so he’s been keeping journals on his deaths and their different pain levels. Because he’s died so much, he’s great at determining the cause of death of victims who come through the morgue. He uses his knowledge and talents to help the homicide division to solve crimes. Meanwhile, since every post-Lost era drama has to have a mystery to it, there appears to be another who shares his same affliction, and has been watching Morgan from afar. He sends him vague messages, signed by “Your Fan”, and the show is clearly leading up to a big meeting between the two. Here’s hoping it lasts that long. The ratings for both episodes weren’t stellar, but they were steady. If it can prove itself as a reliable performer, Forever just may get to finish out its season. I really hope more viewers give it a chance, as it’s really good and I’m curious to see where it’s going. Anyway, for being my favorite television debut of the week, Forever had the West Week Ever.

22nd Aug2014

West Week Ever – 8/22/14

by Will



I really wasn’t sure I was gonna write this until about 3 hrs ago, so I apologize if it’s half-assed. I took a break last week, but I hope you enjoyed my reboot of Three’s Company. In the meantime, there’s not a lot of happy stuff going on these days, so I just haven’t really been compelled to write this post. Still, as they say, the show must go on!


A few weeks ago, I told you that Susan Heyward had been cast as Deena Pilgrim in Sony’s Powers series. Well, this week it was announced that District 9‘s Sharlto Copley will star as Detective Christian Walker in the series. Not who I would’ve chosen. The problem with this is that he doesn’t seem to have the build that Walker has in the comic, but clearly they’re going in another direction. It was also announced that Ensign Ro, Michelle Forbes, would be playing Retro Girl. I don’t have the Playstation Network, so I’ll probably never see this show unless it hits Netflix or something. In any case, it’s being made, so I’m sure that makes someone out there happy.

cannon carey

The honeymoon is over for Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey, as Cannon confirmed that the couple has separated. Apparently, it can be traced back to a radio interview where Cannon was asked to admit 5 celebrities that he’d slept with. Well, that list included Kim Kardashian, which was a sticking point for Mariah. He’ll be OK, though, as they’re already discussing the division of property. He’ll be crying all the way to the bank!


Kevin Sorbo said some crazy stuff about the people of Ferguson, MO. Oh, what’s going on in Ferguson? We’re not getting into that here. Go read a news site or something! Let’s just say that the killing of an unarmed Black teen has sparked protests in the town that have been going on for over a week. Well, the former star of syndicated Saturday fare Hercules: The Legendary Journeys & Andromeda called the people “animals” and said:

“Ferguson riots have very little to do with the shooting of the young man. It is an excuse to be the losers these animals truly are. It is a tipping point to frustration built up over years of not trying, but blaming everyone else, The Man, for their failures. It’s always someone else’s fault when you give up. Hopefully this is a reminder to the African Americans ( I always thought we just Americans. Oh, well.) that their President the voted in has only made things worse for them, not better.”

Wow, Hercules! What would Iolaus say? I guess he won’t be winning an NAACP Spirit Award anytime soon…


Oh, the Ice Bucket Challenge. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past 2 weeks, folks have been filming themselves being doused with ice water in an effort to spread awareness about ALS, AKA Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The trick is that you accept the challenge, and then you challenge three other people to do it. They have 24 hrs to comply or else they have to donate $100 to ALS research. I stirred up a mini controversy on Facebook, as I said “The Ice Bucket Challenge is the whitest thing since the invention of brunch.” Some folks tried to say “Oprah did it!”, like that’s supposed to mean something to me. I’m not sure if it’s because Black folks are preoccupied with the Ferguson stuff, or if we would’ve ignored it anyway, but if you look at the videos, it’s a predominantly White thing. I’ve got a friend who posted her office doing the challenge, and the black dude (there was only one) conspicuously didn’t participate. It’s almost to the point where I’m wondering if I missed something in last month’s newsletter telling us not to participate. Oh, you guys didn’t know there’s a Black Newsletter? Anyway, my pal Howie Decker ended up nominating me, and I would’ve complied, but I was out of town for the 24 hr window. So, I gave the money. I did my part. It’s a good cause that’s raised a lot of money, so it should be commended for that. I’ve definitely enjoyed everyone’s videos who accepted the challenge, and you’re all good sports. This might make me a dick, however, but I’m kinda ready for it to be over now.


Last night, it was announced that Grant, Kari, and Tori would be leaving Mythbusters. Ya know, I think I’ve only watched, maybe, 2 episodes of that show in my entire life. However, anyone who went near a copy of Maxim or FHM in the early ’00s knows who Kari Byron is. She was like a real life Debbe Dunning. Well, Debbe’s real, but she played the Tool Girl on Home…ya know what, let’s just said that joke didn’t land. In any case, I know Kari will be missed. I don’t know about those other dudes.


This week saw the 25th anniversary of Saved by the Bell. My God, I feel so old. I remember where I was that very day. In fact, it first aired on a Friday night, during one of those Saturday morning preview shows that networks used to have. And I remember thinking “This ain’t gonna last”. It’s not like I had any industry knowledge to go on at that point. I was just a kid who wanted his cartoons, and I knew that this was 30 minutes that could have gone to ALF Tales or something. Anyway, I watched it, and it was OK. Then I kept watching it. And then I fell in love with it and The Guys Next Door and everything that Peter Engel later produced. Seriously, there’s a reason there are TNBC and Saved By The Bell tags in the sidebar! Sure, these shows gave a REALLY false impression of what high school was going to be like, but I feel like I grew up with Zack and the gang. When they worked for Mr. Carosi, I worked at the beach club, too. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s what happens when you’re at an impressionable age. I know a lot of my contemporaries hated the show, but I’m not in that camp. Give me a SBTB rerun any day (except the one where Slater’s lizard dies. I hate that episode). It almost had the West Week Ever, but not quite. We’ll get to that in a bit.


A few weeks back, I had the honor of being invited back to The Classick Team-Up, over on the Cold Slither Podcast Network. I’m actually the first 2-time guest, which is pretty awesome, and Classick and I had a great time talking comics, movies, and more. You can check it out here.

In Case You Missed It Last Week

Reboot That Bitch: Three’s Company


This is going to be kinda controversial, but that’s the world we live in these days. Ya know who had the West Week Ever? Taylor Swift, and let me tell you why. All ears and eyes were on Taylor this week, as she released the video for her new song, “Shake It Off”. Written by my musical spirit animal, Max Martin, the song is a departure for Swift, as it’s her first, real pop song. Sure, she’s had crossover hits in the past, and it could be argued that “I Knew You Were Trouble” was her first real foray into pop, but she’s considering this her pop Coming Out. It’s the first single from her next album, 1989, which is supposed to be an 80s-inspired pop album. Those were the magic words right there. I am ALL ABOUT that! Still, you can’t have something without some controversy. The video involves Taylor parodying different dance styles, and the joke is that she’s bad at all of them. Ballet? Bad at it. Cheerleading? Bad at it. And then there’s the twerking scene. No, Taylor doesn’t try to twerk, but she’s got some black ladies in the background doing it for her. And people have said that she’s supporting negative black stereotypes by doing this. The funny thing, though, is that the people saying this have either never seen the video, or they just don’t get the joke. Take a look at it here:

Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj released her new video for “Anaconda” this week, and you can check it out here (but NOT if you’re at work!):

So, tell me – who did more to perpetuate negative black stereotypes this week? Yeah. So, leave Taylor alone, and brace yourselves as she takes over the pop world. It was only a matter of time, and now that she seems to be done with country, there’s nothing we can do to stop her. This is why Taylor Swift had the West Week Ever.

20th Jun2014

West Week Ever – 6/20/14

by Will



So, I took a week off. No one seemed to notice, so I guess you either had an awesome Friday OR nobody reads these things. Anyway, I was on vacation, and when I’m not at work, I don’t really know what’s going on in the world,. So, I took a breather. I hope you’ll forgive me :-p



First up, the United States Patent Office canceled the Redskins trademark, seemingly in an attempt to get the team to change its name. Of course, there are folks excited about this, while there are others who don’t understand what the big deal is about the name. The way I see it, there are really only 2 opinions to have on the matter: you can admit that it’s racist OR you can just not care at all. I fall into the latter camp, as I’m not a sports guy, but I can also admit that it’s pretty racist. I know that folks don’t like change, and there’s the whole matter of “tradition”, but it’s a pretty negative name. I feel like everyone has their own limits of decency, and this just doesn’t set off any alarms for some people. I’m sure, however, there are names out there that would get people upset. I mean, what if the team were called the Washington Holocausts or the Washington Pontius Pilates? Oh, suddenly some folks are starting to get uncomfortable. Good. And don’t try to say “Those are different”, ’cause they really aren’t. I’m not really sure what the big deal is about changing the name, as it’s not like the Redskins have this record that would be tarnished by a name change. For the most part, they’re an expensive, yet shitty team. Hell, a name change might help them out. Take a page from comics, and reboot the whole damn franchise.


In other controversial news, American Apparel ousted Dov Charney as its CEO and president due to sexual misconduct. If you’re not familiar with American Apparel, they make uber comfortable t-shirts, but charge, like, $30 each for them because they’re made with sweatshop-free labor. Oh, and most of their print ads look like scenes from snuff films. Most of the employees look like aspiring Suicide Girls, so Charney was like a kid in a candy store. He’s admitted to having sexual relations with employees in the past, but says that it was always consensual. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink, Dov!


In tech news, Amazon unveiled the wholly unnecessary Fire Phone. Seriously, was anyone waiting for this thing? Sure, it’s got “3-D” capability and whatnot, but what bothers me is that it’s running a modified version of Android, with a curated list of apps. As someone who owns a Kindle Fire, the native apps kinda suck on that thing. Sure, it was essentially an Android tablet, but the apps were treated like a gated community and you couldn’t get a lot of the things that were popular on the Google Play Store.


On the music front, I’m surprised I’m saying this, but I find I’m a big fan of country rapper Big Smo. I was first introduced to Smo on an episode of Bar Rescue, as he was helping Jon Taffer to fix up the local watering hole that had given him his start. I had never heard of him, and kinda thought he was a joke. Next, I heard he was getting his own reality show on A&E, showcasing his life as he’s just about to break out as a mainstream artist. I watched the premiere, and I actually enjoyed it. Still, I wasn’t exactly sure I was down with his music. I grew up listening to country, and though I like a lot of today’s music, it ain’t “country”. This is especially true of the latest craze in the genre: country rap. However, I ran out of podcasts to listen to this week, so I fired up Spotify and decided to listen to all the Big Smo they had. I’m now a fan. As I said on Twitter, his music sounds like the soundtrack to a Louisiana prison break. I just wonder where he’s gonna get airplay, as he’s too country for hip hop, but too hip hop for country. Here’s his single “Workin'”:

While we’re talking about country stuff, have any of you seen this new Auto Trader commercial with the Dukes of Hazzard? I refuse to believe that the Dukes own a smartphone or tablet. I refuse!


I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favorite shows is Catfish, especially due to the live-tweeting experience that comes along with it. It seems to bring out the detective in everyone, and some enterprising sleuth has started this site which compiles the social media links of the various guests featured. Wondering what was so intriguing about Solana’s Instagram? Well, here ya go.  Remember Instagram fame whore Antoinette? Here she is. It’s that simple. It’s probably best to check the site after the episode, as it can spoil whether or not the Catfish is real, but it’s still a fun way to kill some time.



Lifetime has announced that  it will be airing the TV movie The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story on September 1st. Here’s your first look at the cast. Though not based on Dustin Diamond’s Behind the Bell tell-all, it does promise to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the salacious activities of the castmates. I don’t watch Shameless or Degrassi, so I don’t know who any of these kids are, but they were cast by Saved By The Bell‘s original casting director, so there must be something to them.


Marvel Comics released their solicitations for August, which included 15 books with $4.99 price tags. This, folks, is the beginning of the end. I don’t think the industry can survive $5 books, especially if they’re simple monthlies. Event books can do it, as they only occur for about 6 months out of the year, but $5 for the foreseeable future is just too much. If you’re doing $5 and above, you’ve got to sweeten the deal. I’ve grown to like the European model, where they sell compilations of recent issues for about $7-9, which is fine because you’re getting over 100 pages of story. 40 pages at $4.99, however, just ain’t worth it ($3.99 comics are usually 22 pages). Few people realize it, but there was a $9.99 issue of Deadpool just two months ago. It was a special issue, as Deadpool got married, but I still don’t think it needed to be $10. $7, maybe, but not $10.


In local news, there’s a war brewing at my apartment complex between Comcast and Verizon. Up til recently, Comcast was our only option, but FIOS was installed over the past few weeks. Now, they’re both vying for our love. Yesterday morning, Comcast gave breakfast bags to everyone leaving the parking lot. Don’t get too excited – it was juice and a breakfast bar, but it was something. Tomorrow, they’re mounting an assault at the pool. Comcast is going to be giving out delicious, hate-filled Chick Fil A, while Verizon is going to be giving out Rita’s. I’m not quite sure how you can mobilize Rita’s, but I’m curious to find out. I plan to suckle at both of their teats, enjoying delicious chicken and custard. I can’t wait!


cold slither

This was a sad week for me, as it marked the end of the Cold Slither Podcast. Not too long ago, I hated the idea of podcasts. Thought they made no sense. Who knew I’d end up guesting on some?! Anyway, I think I hated podcasts because I thought they were some kind of NPR-ish attempt to talk about boring stuff. Then, I found UnderScoopFire! and Cold Slither about the same time, as we traveled in the same Twitter circles. I had a long commute to work, and since I was taking the Metro, radio wasn’t going to be an option. So, I decided to take the podcast plunge and downloaded their most recent eps on my phone. And I was HOOKED! Podcasts didn’t have to be about obscure indie records or sociopolitical climates of third-world nations. Here were some guys just like me, who happened to like the same stuff I liked. Over the course of the next few years, I had the pleasure of guesting on the show a few times, and I was always welcomed with open arms by Classick, Tim, and Eclectik. They really helped me out by allowing Will’s World of Wonder to sponsor their Slither Madness Tournament, and they were always gracious about providing plugs for my store and blog. All seemed right in the world of the slither and then they just disappeared. Classick went back to school, while Tim and Eclectik focused on their solo projects. It was like when your favorite band breaks up and the members go their separate ways. You have to respect the decision, but you always secretly hope that they’ll one day reunite. Well, the Cold Slither Reunion happened last Tuesday night, as they had a live Google Hangout to record what would be the final episode of the Cold Slither Podcast EVER. Once again, I was honored to take part, as we discussed 1989’s Batman. Mainly, I was just glad I got a chance to say goodbye. The Cold Slither Podcast will live on through its website, and more podcasts are expected to be brought under  the CSP umbrella, so I look forward to seeing what they have in store. Anyway, for giving me years of enjoyment, for giving my ventures tons of exposure, and for going out while still on top, the Cold Slither Podcast had the West Week Ever.

24th May2013

West Week Ever – 5/24/13

by Will

Who had the West Week Ever? Read on and find out!


Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting New Jersey. Could you hear my sarcasm? Anyway, it was a good trip ’cause I got to see my sword brother, Keith, but it had its highs and its lows. On Saturday night, we went to what was billed as “live band karaoke”, which sounded awesome! In reality, however, it was not what one might expect. There was a house band called Deep Fried Thorn, who didn’t suck, but they were mainly there to play themselves. If you wanted to sing a song on their setlist, you were welcome to do so, but their levels were off, and the music was too loud for the venue. I just didn’t feel comfortable there. While I’m used to all-white crowds, this one didn’t seem too welcoming. I guess I was standing too close to the pickup station, as a waitress pushed me out of her way and into a chair. This triggered my assholosity, and I looked for a way to take my anger out on the whole place. When it was my turn (I sang Ain’t Too Proud To Beg), I got to the mic, and said, “Hi, I’m Will, and I’ll be your black guy for the evening.” Yeah, that didn’t go over so well. Not knowing when to quit, I looked at the nearest patron (who was looking at me quizzically), and said, “Yeah, don’t think that I didn’t notice.” Anyway, the rest of the weekend was good. We ate lots of good food, we made plans for our joint venture, Kill Industries, and I got to see my bud.


Oh, we also saw Star Trek Into Darkness. I really enjoyed it. It’s not “Star Trek”, but it was still enjoyable. Not even joining the Star Trek Alice Eve hoopla. I love Alice Eve in underwear – I think it’s in her contract. If you wanna be upset about something, be upset at how they depicted being attacked while in warp. That shit will fuck you up. They should’ve, at the very least, lost a nacelle from that. I mean, it should have been torn completely off its housing, and lost to space. They just don’t spin out of it like a car hitting a patch of black ice. That should’ve have been CATASTROPHIC. But whatever.


I had a weird epiphany over the weekend. You see, I have this routine I do at restaurants: when I order Diet Coke, if they say “I’m sorry, but all we have is Pepsi”, I reply, “I THOUGHT THIS WAS AMERICA!” Only, last weekend, I realized that I prefer Pepsi – at least the diet variety. Maybe it’s because we’ve had SO much Diet Coke at home that its lost all appeal. It reminds me of college: I ended up kicking soda for a year and a half because it had lost all effect. I was drinking 2 liters of Wild Cherry Pepsi a day, and I eventually couldn’t even taste it anymore. I was just chugging it for the burn. So, I went cold turkey. Diet Coke has a similar effect for me now. So, for the time being, make mine Pepsi!

I also took on the Herculean task of getting one of my email accounts in order. In case you didn’t know, I own williambrucewest at everything except AOL. Well, I still have my college account redirected to my Hotmail/Outlook account, and it was at 78 pages. Yeah, I had stuff going back to 2006, which was the last time I’d even attempted to keep it under control. Now I’m at 4 pages, but I’m still striving for Inbox Zero. Over the weekend, I’m going to tackle Gmail.


Anyone remember when I wrote about Xuxa a few months back? Well, I got the best comment on it the other day about America’s “cold and dirty minds”. Go check it out.


Why has no one come up with the Jail Body Workout (#fitness)? I never, never, never, never, never wanna end up in jail, but if I ever do, three things will happen:

1) I’ll become well-read

2) I’ll get closer to God

3) I’ll get an amazing, jacked body

There should be a DVD for the Jail Body Workout, and it’d come with a pocket copy of the Qur’an (I used that spelling ’cause I’m really into apostrophes right now. So hot.). It can’t be hosted by Shaun T, though – his ass would never make it out alive.


Haha, Morgan Freeman fell asleep during an interview! He also used to fuck his step-granddaughter, but we casually forgot that. Just like we forgot Jerry Seinfeld both dated a minor and stole his current wife away from her husband while she was on her honeymoon. Oh, but Michael Vick and Chris Brown are still assholes. God bless America’s selective memory!

So nice of the Boys Scouts to let in gay members, ’cause of course those kids’ll grow out of it by the time they’re scout leaders, right? Right? Ugh…

I ever tell you about the time I slept over at my ex’s parents’ house, and they put me in a room with several Rolexes sitting casually on a dresser. I’ve always thought that was a test. I passed. And now I ain’t got no Rolex. Random, I know.

Links I Loved
Taxi vs. Hill Street Blues: Battle of the TV Show Intros – The Robot’s Pajamas

A Raging Nerdgasm/Real Toy Hunting moment – my greatest wants acquired – Raging Nerdgasm

The Weekly Scoop: Underwear Uproar, Mini He-Man, and this Human Torch will not be denied a bank loan – UnderScoopFire!

What’s the most dangerous job in comics? – Cold Slither Podcast

A new podcast hit the streets recently, filled with folks I enjoy – head over to the Cold Slither Podcast, to hear Nicju and R2thaEdgy’s new show, “What’s The Tea?”

This Week’s Posts

Best of the West #3: Knight Rider Knight 2000 Voice Car

Collegiate Conundrum OR Reunited and Feels So Bad?

Thrift Justice – Hell Naw! Are You For Real?

One’s out of our league, while the others are too cool for school. One’s taking a nap, while the other’s taking a plea. Only one, however, could have the West Week Ever!


Anyone who knows of my love for TNBC should’ve seen this coming. This week marks the 20th anniversary of the original Bayside gang’s graduation from high school. Yes, you’re that old! Like it or not, Saved by the Bell was a definitive pop culture milestone of the early 90s. For many of us, it gave us false expectations of what high school would be like. For others, it was our introduction to our first “feminist”. Either way, it’s been 20 years since they walked across that stage and got their diplomas from Mr. Belding. They’ve gone on to be strippers, game show hosts, cops, soap opera actresses, and more, but they’ll always be the Saved by the Bell kids.

I often wonder where they might be today. Lisa’s, no doubt, a fashion designer. If that didn’t work out, then she’s an on-air personality for E! Jessie’s an attorney, annoying the shit out of clients and judges alike. Slater blew out his knee and is probably an on-air personality for ESPN. Screech probably invented FaceSter, but Zack ends up with all the credit and the money. Speaking of Zack, he and Kelly have been divorced for about 12 years now. I know it was a kids show, but I never bought their whole “true love” angle. Zack was used to getting whatever he wanted, and Kelly was the one thing he had to work to get. He simply wanted what he couldn’t have, and once he got her, I’m sure he lost interest. Kelly, meanwhile, is a happy mom to 6 kids (remember, the Kapowskis were fertile) and is married to her second husband, Jeff. Yes, THAT Jeff. Oh, and The Max is now a national chain and can usually be found in the same shopping centers as Ernie’s Gym & Juice Bar franchises. Anyway, for touching our childhood (no MJ!), and for enduring all these years, the kids from Bayside High Class of ’93 had the West Week Ever.

03rd Jan2013

West YEAR Ever – 2012

by Will


A year that began pretty shitty turned out rather well. I started the year with a bad cold, which led to me being sick every 3 months throughout the year. Then, I lost my job in May. Once summer hit, things started to get better. I got a BETTER job, I attended the weddings of 2 great friends, and I got married. Yay! I spend a ton of time online, so I figured we’d talk about that a bit, with a twist: we’ll cover the wedding in pics and the online in words. DEEP!


Don’t worry, black folks. There was another black girl. She was late. Go figure…

I no longer feel the need to be Top Dog in the nerd game. I was discussing this with someone who has ambitious goals to take over the internet toyverse. It’s admirable, but I asked, “What then?” It’s like the supervillain who wants to rule the world. What does he do once he gets it? I used to want to be Nerd King. I wanted to be America’s Next Top Blerd. Try as I might, no one was looking to fill that position. Hell, at this point, I’d settle for “Top Blerd of Lower Montgomery County Between The Hours of 6 and 8 PM”. I mean, I’ve worked hard, but there are others who have worked harder and longer. Plus, what’s to be gained at the top? It just makes you a target for others “gunning for the title”. It can be lonely at the top, the middle, AND the bottom.


I got to marry HER. I already won. 

I’ve been doing this 10 years. Some years were more active than others, but I’ve come to realize that I just want to carve out my own niche, rather than unseat someone. I think this has been more pronounced since the recent changing of the guard over at Topless Robot. When the job was posted, a lot of us started wondering if we had the chops. I thought I could do it, but I simply didn’t have the readership. Hell, it’s just 3 parts linkblogging, 2 parts snark. Still, no one knows who I am. I’m not active on any boards, nor am I a regular commentor anywhere; I tend to keep to myself. Also, I said it then, and I’ll say it again: I don’t wish that job on my worst enemy. There’s NO WAY you’re going to “properly” replace Rob Bricken in the eyes of fans, nor should you really be expected to do so. Still, that person is going to have to prove himself, as Luke Y. Thompson is learning. No matter how hard he works, for now, he’s simply “Not Rob”. Just look at the comments on recent posts. Rob-era posts had comment threads into the hundreds, while most recent comment threads max out at about 14. Village Media can’t be too happy about this, but I don’t think LYT is to blame. TR was popular BECAUSE of Rob. It WAS Rob. THAT is what we should be striving toward: creating something that is OURS. No more of this “I want to rule the toy internetz” stuff. I mean, do we even understand the scope of that goal?


I talk to a lot of different people online, from those who used to run toy sites to those who currently run them. Do you realize how many “top dogs” on the toy scene aren’t even aware of each other? Everyone’s “winning” a race without even knowing who their competitors are. Isn’t that odd? Is anyone really leading or is it simply a matter of scope and perspective?

I’m not doing a What Would You Like To See More Of? post because I already know. I get it. You like Thrift Justice. The thing is, I’m kinda writing for me, and I’m inviting you along for the ride. There’s gonna be a lot of stuff coming up that you’re not gonna give a shit about, like when I looked back on lesser known TNBC shows. I can’t cater to a readership that I’m not even totally sure exists. Hell, I don’t know who all is reading this post. I don’t deserve to be top dog because I simply don’t know enough. Case in point: I still don’t get the reasoning behind website ads. I mean, sure, they can generate revenue for your site, but I’ve also heard too many stories of people getting $5 checks every three years. Why go through all that to make your site the equivalent of a NASCAR entry? Is it REALLY worth it? My site may look like shit to some, but I did that. I can’t blame Snorgtees for any of that. And how many people realize you’re supposed to clear your cookies for those Amazon Affiliate links to register?

Because there’s so much I don’t understand, I enjoy doing this as I also learn a lot from it. The internet is such a funny place, filled with fiefdoms and arbitrary measures of success. Page hit counts are whispered with the same gravitas as asking someone the size of their penis. We boast of having 10,000 followers, omitting the fact that we follow 9,000 (your follower/followee ratio is key). I dunno. I guess I’m just saying it’s hard to rule the world when you don’t even know how big it is. To me, my greatest challenge is getting people I KNOW to read my stuff, let alone strangers. Back to the follower thing, I have over 700, but I can count on about 25 of them to click any links I send out. And it’s FREE! I can’t imagine how it must feel to write and charge for a book. Anyway, that’s not “reach”. BUT it’s a small community that I cherish, and it should be nurtured. As I get older, it means more to me to foster those kinds of interactions than worrying that some Millenials aren’t sharing my post up on Digg.

I’ve already talked about future plans for the site, so I’m not gonna rehash that here. My main goal for 2013 is to build a sense of community. I’ve made a lot of friends online, and I’d like to do more of that. None of this “competition” stuff, as we’ve all got challengers of whom we aren’t even aware. And what are we trying to “win”? Anyway, if people want in, I welcome them. I’m just tired of pissing in the wind; ya just end up wet. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.


Funny Update: Just as I wrapped up this post, I got an advertising inquiry from a home furnishing firm. Clearly, they haven’t read this site…